So now that we have 3D and UltraHD/4k video resolution available, what is the next frontier in creating an immersive home theater movie experience? George Lucas has stated that 50% of the movie experience is the audio, but it seems most of the technological advancements have been on the visuals. The industry has been hyper-focused on video improvements like IMAX, 3-D, Ultra-high resolution, etc. but now it is time for 3D Sound!
The evolution of theater audio started with stereo sound and evolved to surround sound, then 5.1, then 7.1. Dolby laboratories has been at the forefront of all of these audio advancements and now have released Dolby Atmos for home use which is now available in audio receiver brands like Integra, Pioneer Elite and Yamaha and will quickly be making its way into higher-end audio processors from JBL Synthesis, Steinway Lyngdorf, Mark Levinson, Datasat and others. Dolby Atmos, up to now, has only been available in about 700 commercial cinemas to date so most likely you have not experienced this.
So what is it? In short…more speakers
Think of the opening scene of Master and Commander. When the camera takes you below deck during the naval battle, the realistic sound of footsteps on the creaking deck are part of what made that audio mix an award-winner. One problem, those footsteps are supposed to sound like they are over your head, not to your left and right where your current surround speakers are designed to be.
Dobly Atmos fixes that problem for you. By incorporating ceiling channels, or “voice of God” speakers as some like to call them, you can fill that large void in your soundscape. Dolby also has a stringent requirement of how many side and rear speakers you install and how close together they are. When executed properly, there will be no gaps of coverage when a Fast and Furious race car is making donuts around your private screening room.
The goal with any high-end home theater experience is to completely lose yourself in a movie. You want to be as immersed as possible and Dolby Atmos gets you to that next level of immersion. It also gives the filmmakers additional creative freedom when making a film. Just as James Cameron utilized 3D brilliantly with Avatar, I expect many great filmmakers will embrace Atmos and create some stunning soundtracks.
So Atmos is here and definitely worthy of your consideration. You will need to plan your private home theater properly to ensure that the quantity and placement of speakers is considered. We suggest engaging VIA for design services to make sure your home cinema experience is as amazing as the filmmaker intended. VIA is currently designing and building many Dolby Atmos Home Theaters in Los Angeles for A-list filmmakers and Bel Air Circuit members. We would like to give you that same A-list experience so give us a call. To learn some of the most important aspects of modern home theater, download VIA’s Top 12 Home Theater Tips by clicking on the graphic on this page. You’ll be glad you did.